Upper School Scientists present, participate in Science Fair

Each year, US2 and US3 wow the community with their Science Fair projects. This year, the entire Upper School got in on the action!
New to the Science Fair format this year were three "Citizen Science" experiences organized by the science department. These opportunities allowed all Upper School students to choose one of three projects to participate in, one with very local implications and two on a national scale. The entire campus was bustling with activity as students set their eyes skyward to collect atmospheric data, got their hands dirty making sourdough starters and measuring characteristics like height and aroma, or surveyed classroom book collections to look for measurable markers of diversity in literature in close to 500 books.

"Our Citizen Science experiences are about seeing what it's like to be a scientist and to collect data. Whether or not they were participating in science fair, we wanted students to get the chance to collect data and follow a protocol. They participated in data collection that would actually make an impact on global studies that are going on. This is a really powerful thing to do in science," observed Dr. Fisch in between identifying clouds for NASA with some fellow citizen scientists.

Meanwhile, in one of three buzzing hubs, US2 and US3 students presented their experiments to family, faculty, staff, and students in both divisions. Though the projects ranged in content from finding the best plant for your home aquarium to gender bias to climate change, the core value of discovery was well represented in every corner. So was resilience, it turned out.

"This was pretty stressful," noted Solomon L. in US2. "We had a lot going on, big tests and things. But in the end, I feel like I'm more interested in science now having done a big experiment like this, and now having done this, I know a little bit better how to approach it in the future."

Fellow scientist Johnny L. (US2), with whom Solomon investigated taste and texture in gluten free products, agreed. "I thought this was a very fun subject and it was interesting to do tests with human subjects."

"We liked that it had the possibility of helping a large group of people — 89 million people worldwide are affected by Celiac Disease," Solomon added.

Across the room, a trio of scientists stood watching as a subject cautiously bit into a breakfast sandwich. "It's vegan!" revealed Dennet S., who along with Sienna F. and Samaya S-M. (all US2) investigated how people reacted to learning the facts about their food. Their project, titled "Do you care about the food or the facts?", revealed that Mirman students indeed did respond to intellectual appeals rather than emotional when it came to hamburgers and health.

"I'm skeptical of vegan cheese, but this is pretty good," admitted Choir Director Ashley Ramsey.
True to form, the students also became teachers that day. When asked what interesting things she had learned, LS/US Science Teacher Stephanie Braun easily recalled a memorable lesson from Brandon M. and Charles A. (both US2). "I learned that we really should be cleaning our laptops more," she said. "There's a lot of bacteria and viruses in there. But beyond that, I'm so impressed with the students' ability to present their findings."

Lower School Science Teacher Paige Moyer seemed flabbergasted by her unexpected discovery courtesy of Vivien E. and Meghan Y. (both US3): "Bubblegum toothpaste worked the best to clean teeth?!" Meanwhile, first grader Tony G.-A. took his learnings in stride. "I was interested to hear more about gender stereotypes, and I learned that they aren't true."

Congratulations to all of our citizen scientists and Science Fair participants!
A Horse With No Name No More
from the 2018-2019 Meridian 

After the school rebranded a few years ago, Athletic Director Angela Brown felt that something was missing. While new uniforms were donned for the first day of school, new signs were hung around campus, and a new website launched to accompany refreshed marketing materials, the font-forward design left something to be desired when it came to truly raising team spirit to the power of Mirman. 

In a school where more than half of the student body participates in some form of competitive athletics, and on a campus where a significant expansion created pristine courts and fields upon which one can cheer on several teams on any given day, Brown saw opportunity and sensed desire to elevate the program. After working with Jenn Salcido, Director of Marketing and Communications, and Noah Kaufman, Director of Advancement, the school’s branding was expanded to include a strong, confident (though K-8-appropriate) steed. New universal uniforms, sweatsuits, and swag followed suit. 

“It’s a truly exciting time for athletics at Mirman,” said Brown. “It’s a sense of pride that you can see and feel. It’s almost like we’ve arrived. You could have taken a snapshot of the students in their old uniforms, and then with their new ones with the names on the back. It’s a rallying cry. You can see the pride on their faces.”  

Finally, everyone could don uniforms featuring their own names writ large. Everyone except, of course, the horse. Everyone knew we had a mascot — you’d see the nameless Mustang trotted out for the occasional assembly or championship bout — but nobody really knew the mascot. 

What if the community could help change that? 

Last fall, Brown and her colleagues in the Physical Education department introduced a contest at an all-school assembly. The objective: not only to name the Mustang, but to tell the mascot’s story. Over the course of a 6-day cycle, ballots were collected from every grade level in both divisions. With Salcido’s help, Brown and Assistant to the Athletic Director Alyssa Woods tallied the results. 

The judges carefully considered the entries, assessing them on an unwritten rubric including points for overall catchiness, gender-neutrality, universal appeal, and other considerations. As the dust settled, one clear winner emerged: Rider. In retrospect, it seemed rather obvious. The school had only recently unveiled its Core Values (Responsibility, Integrity, Discovery, Empathy, and Resilience). And as equine monikers go, Rider makes a certain degree of sense. The name was revealed with much aplomb at an all-school assembly, with Rider trotting out on stage to show off a newly-minted personalized jersey. 

The winning entry belonged to Room 4L students Victoria A. and Amelie S., who soon revealed that they had a little help from their friends, specifically former Room 4L co-teacher and current Librarian Allison Sparks. 

“We had just had a community circle in class talking about the Core Values,” said Sparks. “This was something new to me as a new member of the Mirman community. When I asked the class out loud if they’d considered Rider for the Mustang name, a few of the students wanted to suggest it.” 

“I laughed it off and dismissed the idea,” Sparks admitted. “I thought that since it had come from an adult, it wouldn’t count. But when I saw how excited they were when they submitted it, I knew the name rang true. It really came out of an ‘a ha’ moment we had together as a class. 

“It relates so much to our school and Core Values and helps us make sure we’re always doing the right thing,” said Victoria A. of the new name. 

“It’s amazing to be part of our school history,” added Amelie S. 

The two girls, who themselves represent Mirman on the basketball court and soccer fields as part of the Room 4 teams, admitted that, like many great ideas, their first iteration didn’t ring quite as true. “I think we wanted to do mustard,” said Victoria. 

“Or mayonnaise,” said Amelie. 

As it turns out, most things do get better with teamwork. 

Like any ballot box, this one was not without its curiosities once opened up. Here were a few of the voting trends: 
  • More than a few students wanted to name the Mustang after themselves or their classmates 
  • One entry suggested “Vegan” 
  • “Uncle Grandpa” popped up more than a few times, much to the confusion of one judge. It was revealed upon further investigation that this is in fact an affectionate nickname for Coach Allen Foster. 
  • Regarding “The Mysterious Moose:” decidedly not a horse, but good alliteration. 

A Biography of Rider 
By Victoria A. and Amelie S., Room 4L 
(with editorial assistance from an anonymous magazine editor) 
Once upon a time, a beautiful horse was born. He* shook himself and stood up, curious about the world around him. He began to walk through the forest, stopping every so often to grab some fruit from a tree. After a while, he came upon a group of two little girls and their teacher walking through the woods.

“Hi horse! What’s your name?” the little girl asked. 

“I don’t have a name, actually. What’s yours?” the horse answered. 

“Woah, I can actually understand you,” said the little girl. “That’s so cool!” 

The girls and their teacher spoke with the horse a while longer, introducing themselves and getting to know each other. They wondered aloud why the horse didn’t have a name. 

“I just haven’t thought of one yet,” he said. “I’ve only just been born!” 

The trio brainstormed about names for a while, but then got sidetracked with what they all wanted to be when they grew up. “Do you have any ideas,” asked the teacher?” 

“I want to be a head of school!” one of the girls said. “And my school will need to have Core Values, but I don’t know what those should be.” 

“Maybe I can help you,” volunteered the horse. 

“You need to have responsibility,” began the teacher. “And integrity.” 

“And empathy for other horses!” said the horse. 

“We’ll need to discover things along the way!” said the other girl. 

“And you’ll need some resilience,” the horse finished. 

Suddenly, the trio and the horse looked at one another. “How would you feel if we called you Rider in honor of those core values?” asked the teacher. 

By now, you know how this story ends — happily ever after, surrounded by the cheering crowds. 

*while Rider is a male horse in this story, we know from his biographers that he really can be any gender! Everyone can and should be able to identify with Rider. 
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